Commentary

The Next Great Chump

"The Next Great Champ" came out swinging - but didn't hit anything. On its first airing Tuesday, the show's ratings lacked, well, punch. As bad as that sounds it's actually good news for Fox.

If the show continues down this path, Fox will help disprove one longtime TV programming axiom -- that the first show in a new genre almost always wins.

The Fox show debuted to flailing ratings -- only putting up a lightweight Nielsen Media Research 2.4 rating among adults 18-49. Wisecracking tigers on NBC's animated "Father of the Pride," from DreamWorks were able to best the show with a 4.3 among adults 18-49. (This is after "Pride' fell by 20% versus the prior week.)

For DreamWorks, who is also producing "The Contender" with Mark Burnett for NBC, it's a snarky victory. Fox and DreamWorks ended up in court over the last several weeks with DreamWorks contending Fox stole its boxing show idea. DreamWorks lost. Fox then hurried the show to air even faster.

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What stories may have missed is that "The Next Great Champ" could be the first champ of its kind to quickly go to chump. It would be one of the rare examples in TV where the first show of a new genre fails to succeed, only to have the second show in, "The Contender," making the scorecard.

Typically, when new TV formats come to fruition, the copycat programs lose out. For example, networks tried to take on CBS' "Survivor," such as with ABC's "I'm a Celebrity. Get me out of the here!" But that didn't survive. CBS tried to combat Fox's "American Idol" with a renewed "Star Search." But that show failed to muster any high notes. Through the years networks have tried to launch "Seinfeld" copies and "Friends" clones - all to failures.

Irony? DreamsWorks didn't need a court ruling to stop a Fox failure.

For its own part, Fox will prove what it has been saying all along. No one has a monopoly on ideas. Fox proved DreamWorks had nothing to worry about. Nice moral victory - but no honorable ratings.

So, Fox. Next time, don't push another tomato can in the ring. Train hard, inhale the smelling salts, and break another program model.

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